Prototype Testing

My very lovely and talented friend Sarah makes the most awesome knitting project bags, needle cases, needle rolls, and manty other delightful handmade things which she sells here. She’s a well talented seamstress and definitely put lots of thought into designing them just right. I have many of her project bags and my collection keeps growing; partially cause how i stop myself buying yarn is to spend it on knitting accessories. So when I was trolling the interwebs one day last Autumn and came across a ‘knitting pattern envelope’ someone who made similar bags was selling, I thought, “huh, that’s cool. but I bet Sarah could make something cooler.” A quick email convo later and it turns out Sarah had already been contemplating coming up with something along that line. So I naturally offered my services as a prototype tester for it.

And now fast forward to the other weekend when I went to checkout the Crafty Fox market (and met up with Sarah, her hubby & kids for a bit), she presented me with my shiny new prototype to try out.

I think it’s well cool with tons of pockets and places to put things. The main focus is the pattern pocket which is a clear plastic pocket you can put your pattern in so it doesn’t get all mussed up as you tote it around places. (Seriously if you’ve ever seen some of mine by the end of a project, it’s barely holding itself together). It’s A4 paper sized so it will hold a full pattern without folding and it has an extra fabric pocket behind it where you can store the additional pages of the pattern if you don’t want them all in the clear pocket.

On the facing side there is another large paper sized fabric pocket, a small zipper pouch you can store your stitchmarkers and things in, and a slim pen/needle pocket. Basically I had so many places to put things I didn’t know what to do with it all. When you’re ready to take it on the move, you just fold it in half and it has a little button closure (though I’m going to suggest to Sarah this is maybe a snap closure if possible as I think it may hold up longer).

And bonus because it’s all soft foldy fabric, you can fold it in half without damaging your pattern pages:

And even roll it up like a sushi log:

My only slightly negative thought with it was that holding a full sized A4 sheet makes it a bit too large for all my knitting project bags as most of mine are the smaller (sock pouch) sized and medium sized as I’m mostly a knitter on the go. I’ve only got one of the big sized bags and it’s had a WIP in it that I’m sure will not be done anytime this year (or maybe next). So basically I was stumped as to what project to test its wonders out with. In the end, I settled with a project I knew would go on for a while: hexipuff knitting.

Yes, that’s right folks, I have caved and joined the fad. But it turns out the big size of the pattern holder makes it perfect for hexipuff knitting. I have the full pattern of the hexipuffs on the clear side. And in all the pockets on the other I’ve stuffed a bunch of leftover bits of sock yarn I’m using for the hexipuffs in the zipper pocket, the finished hexipuffs & the one in progress in the massive pocket, and I have the extra DPNs I’m not currently using. It’s like a giant trapper keeper of awesome for my knitting! Seriously, how cool is that?

Needless to say, now that I’ve found the perfect purpose for my A4 sized pattern keeper, I’m well stuffed with it. Knowing Sarah she’ll have come up with more awesome improvements for it by the time she starts selling them, so keep your eyes peeled for it and if you want one, email her and tell her to start making them so she knows there are knitters who think they’re awesome too.

I’ve already suggested the half-sized version to Sarah so I think she’s pondering the look of that one. I’ve got a couple other variations on it floating in my head I might sketch out and see what she thinks of it.

Weekend highlights

A quick recap of the weekend in photos

TigerNails.jpg

I got some awesome tiger nail art done at a craft fair on Saturday

SnoozyAlice.jpg

I had a very content cat on my lap Sunday morning

PistachioCranChocoChip.jpg

I did a cookie experiment Sunday evening and made Pistachio Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies. They were delightful.

4 years

Today the 17th of March is my arrival day. Four years ago today, I came to the UK to live.

Well, technically it was the 15th of March that I arrived on the plane to Heathrow but I usually use the 17th as I liked that my first day of work was St. Patrick’s Day, which helped build in a nice tradition.

That tradition being going to the Toucan, a tiny little Irish pub in Soho that was local for our office at the time (and according to my Irish coworker Ryan serves the best Guinness in London), to have pints of Guinness for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s something I’ve done every year since that first eve at the pub and it’s like my little expat-versary thing.

This year was no different. I met up with my friend Lisa for a late lunch and then we wandered over to the Toucan for some tasty Guinness. And even better, the barman made little designs on the tops of our Guinness (the left one is obviously a shamrock and the right is the Guinness logo).

We hung about to see if anyone else was going to come by for some St. Pats drinking as a few other folks had been invited out, but it seemed it was just us. So having had our traditional Guinness, we wandered elsewhere for cocktails, dinner, and generall goofing and chatter.

It was a splended afternoon and a nice reminder how much moving here was an awesome decision for myself. I knew it the minute I stepped off that plane and I know it today. It’s not just the living abroad thing, it’s the lifestyle and the culture.

I’m still not sure how long I plan to stay but here’s to another year of life in the UK. Now to go start digging through paperwork to look at the ILR process.

Beer for Punks

Normally my Wednesday evening plans consist of going to knit night at the pub, but when my friend Jenny invited me to be her +1 guest to a beer tasting evening that she had won a free place for two at, I couldn’t pass it up.

BrewDog Camden Beer Tasting

BrewDog Camden Beer Tasting

The event was a beer tasting at the BrewDog Camden, one of the newer installations of the BrewDog Brewery pub chains. We showed up a bit early since some digging online hinted that there should be tasty food at the pub (though no obvious place on their website says this, I actually when looking up something else for this just found their menu as a download). Lucky the internet won this round and they did indeed have food in the form of pizza and burger options. We decided to get a veggie pizza to split and I nabbed a pint of one of the guest beers, Liberty Ale from the USA (mostly cause it was one of the lower % ones). Sad to say it tasted like American beer, though a nicer form of American beer. The pub itself was quite nice and though a bit busy, most the patrons were really polite and easy going about lack of space and table sharing.

Time finally rolled around for us to head to the basement for our tasting session. It was a small group and I’d say women made up probably a third of the group or slightly under, which is frankly not a bad a percentage for a tasting. Jenny & I nabbed a sofa and while we were waiting for things to begin dug out our knitting. I was well determined to finish the shawlette I’d been working on so I actually knitted the whole way through the tasting as I listened to the talking. We tasted five beers over the evening.

BrewDog Punk IPA

BrewDog Punk IPA

First up was the Punk IPA, their flagship beer if you will. Now I’m not a big IPA person to begin with as I tend to find them bitter and vile. The Punk IPA had a hint of a West Coast USA IPA type style but without the shoddy taste. One of the things I despised about beer in Seattle was nearly all craft brews were IPAs and nearly all of them were revolting. This one had a subtle ode to that flavor but I could drink it without grimacing and didn’t find it awful. It wasn’t a bad beer but it wouldn’t be something I’d ever order if I had a choice. Just not my type of thing.

5am Saint

BrewDog 5am Saint

Next up was the 5am Saint, their other main beer. This one was more of an ale style beer and so it was something I found more palatable. It was a nice well rounded ale though nothing overly special about it. However I would be more than happy to drink it all evening long. Pleasing and good so it works.

BrewDog Hardcore

BrewDog Hardcore

Then they threw in a kicker with a taste of their beer, Hardcore. It was an imperial IPA type of beer but this was not your usual IPA type of taste. This thing was like a punch in the mouth on the first drink as you were slammed with flavor. It was a bit intense at first but on subsequent drinking it got better. They also gave us some pizza to have with it to try out the beer with food pairing. Like some of those red wines that are near undrinkable on their own but become delightful on the tongue when combined with cheese, this beer totally upped the ante with the pizza. It paired really nicely with the flavors and showed it would be a nice food companion beer.

BrewDog Dogma

BrewDog Dogma

Moving on to trying a more dark beer, they brought out the Dogma. Apparently this beer was originally called Speedball after the infamous drug combo as it is made of a combination of active stimulants, hops & poppy, and depressants, guarana and kola nuts. However the official government board disagreed with this being the name of the beer and so they renamed it to Dogma. When running through all the ingredients in the beer, there was a tossing of glasses full them onto the group of tasters. It was a nice way to shake things up, even if I did end up with oats in my beer. The beer itself was beautiful. It’s a delectable imperial stout with a smooth velvety flavor. It tasted of coffee and oats. This is something I would just drink all the time. It also was giving me ideas about it’s possibility at being a quality candidate for making a delicious beer float.

BrewDog Abstrakt AB:08

BrewDog Abstrakt AB:08

The last beer of the tasting was the Abstrakt AB:08 and man was it a winner of epic proportions. They actually blindfolded us all before they’d let us see and taste the beer. The reason being that people see a beer and get an expectation of how it tastes, which should have been the tip off for this one. It was a blonde stout. Yes, you read that right, blonde. And it was fucking amazing. It tasted like chocolates, sweetness, and coffee. It was like a dessert wine but beer. I wanted it on ice cream and on every dessert I made.

Squirrel bottle

Squirrel bottle

While wrapping up and answering last questions, our awesome staff leading the tasting (names… i am so bad with names… and i didn’t write them down!) talked about a few of the ultra high strength beers they had made, some of which were upstairs and should be checked out. One which sadly was no longer around, was a super high strength beer at 55%, The End of History, that was a limited number of 12 bottles. They incorporated a very clever taxidermist for some assistance in the packaging and well, yea, you poured beer from a squirrel’s mouth Or a stoats as apparently there were 7 stoats and 4 grey squirrels used (they were all roadkill so weren’t killed specifically for the purpose of packaging). Each of the BrewDog pubs got a bottle and the Camden one’s is called Steve (if I remember right).

BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin

BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin

They also suggested if we were up for it, to try some of the Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a 32% imperial stout that is one of the world’s strongest beers. It gets served in shot glass sized amounts which you enjoy as if you would a whiskey. Jenny & I weren’t quite ready to go home and so decided to share one. It was also a thing of fucking awesomeness. It tasted as a cross between a whiskey and a beer. It was delightful.

Uh, you're missing a comma there

Uh, you're missing a comma there

It was an awesome thing to do for a Wednesday evening and I’m now thinking whenever I get around to my driving trip of Scotland, there may need to be a stop by the BrewDog Brewery. Aside from having an array of tasty tasty beers, they have some fun named beers that we didn’t taste like Arrogant Bastard and Bitch Please. Though Jenny was quite annoyed at the grammar on that last one when we saw the bottle. It should have a comma since it is technically a command statement: “Bitch, Please.”

Bad grammar aside, I learned a few new things at the tasting like when you see “imperial” on a beer name, it means it’s a really strong version of that type of beer.  My favorites for the evening were the Dogma and the AB:08 but I also really enjoyed the Penguin. Must go back to try more. Or I’m also very tempted to order some from their online shop. And bonus of the evening…I finished my shawl:

Shawlette

One tough yogi

Or not. But I’m a bit out of practice so I’m giving myself some leway as all good yogis should.

This weekend I started working on my goal for the year to get myself up to 50 sun salutations. A bit of a self-challenge in there but it will also be good for helping me see my mat more which isn’t a bad thing.

I emailed* my yoga teacher Tracy for advice before I started and to get a double check on what the sun salutation sequence is. She thought it was an awesome fun goal and a good thing to work toward. And I nearly had the sun salutation sequence right too.

Sunday I visited my mat for the first time in longer than I care to admit. Not that I haven’t been doing yoga things at all, I’ve just not done anything on my mat. I did a bit of breathing and couple warm up poses and then got started on some sun salutations. I was going to try for ten but thought maybe having not been on my mat in so long, pushing that hard so quick would be a recipe for badness. So I did five and then finished off with some shivasana.

The bummer of the morning was I discovered the bowl of my oil burner had cracked, unfortunately by nearly setting off the smoke detector since the oil was leaking through the base onto the flame directly and thus smoking. It’s a lovely burner I bought from a potter at a market in Belgium so I loathe to give it up. But I think I can find a replacement bowl for the top and use the bowl from it for candles or something.

Probably a good thing I stuck with five for this first go since I was a bit sore yesterday. But even so, I got on my mat again and did the morning sequence Tracy made for me ages ago yesterday morning. I’ve not done it in a while since despite my efforts to get up 30 minutes earlier to do some morning yoga, more sleep always won out, and so when I did yoga, it was usually the post-work destress evening sequence she wrote for me. But it was nice to have a change and go back to an old sequence I hadn’t done in a while. It was a good wake-up too.

I’m a bit more sore this morning, mostly I’m betting from using my body in a way it hasn’t been used to in a while. My back is a bit sore too which tells me I was not using my core enough (though my abs tell me otherwise). So what I’m taking away from the things my body is saying is slow and steady build up. No rushing.

 

* She used to live in London and was my yoga teacher on top of neighbor and friend. She moved back to Seattle with her family last year and even far away she will always be my yoga teacher. It’s a perk of going back to Seattle for work that I can go to her yoga class.

Craft Swishing

So I should be in heading to bed but instead I’m blogging while I wait for my iphone update to finish downloading, which probably still won’t finish in time but hey gives me an excuse. Plus I really wanted to blog about this before I forgot.

Yesterday, my knittery group of friends & I had our second (annual) craft swish party. What the hell is a craft swish party you ask? Well, we’ll start with what a swish party is. In short, swishing is an event where everyone brings articles of clothing they not longer want/need/fit, everyone puts them on the table, there is a set amount of viewing time, and after that everyone can dig in to take things home. When I heard about swishing for the first time I thought it was an awesome idea, but a flawed one if you are, like me, not say friends with a whole bunch of people the same size as you. However, the concept I thought was an awesome kinda thing and I totally liked the idea of applying it to my crafting stashes that were getting it out of control, so hence the craft swish party was born.

Last year's swish yarn pile

last year's swish yarn pile

last year's swish fabric

last year's swish fabric pile

Last year about this time, I invited all my friends to come over to my house with all their yarn, fabric, and other craft assortments they were wanting to release to the wild of new homes. We had a massive pile of stuff and a helluva good time was had. There was tea, sandwiches and cake. Much laughter and gabbing. My collection of crazy old pattern books was dug out and mocked (the patterns, not the collection. we were a group of knitters after all and seriously, if you saw some of these patterns from the 70s, you would mock too). And everyone found something delightful in the pile of goodies. All the leftovers, I set loose further into the wild via freecycle. We all had so much fun and felt good about our stash spring cleaning, we decided to do it again this year.

The mound pre-swishing

the collection of swish items

Hazel offered to host this year’s round so we sorted out a date and everyone got to cleaning out there stashes. I cleaned out mine last weekend and it was a bit of a chore. Mostly cause I have to dig it all out from the 20 places it’s stored around my room and in the basement. Hey, I live in the UK, space is a luxery and we find storage where we find it. But I did go through it all, hemmed and hawed, and made some partings. I acquired a nice little bag of things to take with me and I made it my goal the bag was to return less full than it left.

Swish Preview Time

Swish preview time

So yesterday, we all made our way over to Hazel’s house. She had a delightful lunch and a bit of cake for sustinance. Nothing is worse than trying to resist yarn or fabric fumes on an empty stomach. Then we set to work on swishing. A lovely pile was set forth on the floor, mostly yarn but also a good deal of fabric. We all squished and sniffed (yes, we sniff yarn. what of it?) and ooo’d and aahh’d. We did a run through of the rules (I’ll list them below in case anyone wants to host their own) and then we set about picking. Last year, we decided that for it to be fair, everyone should get a go at picking one thing from the pile and then we’d have a free for all. That way everyone would have a shot at getting something nice and they liked. So we random drew names for the order, and everyone made their selections. I got a bit of a giggle cause I had spied what I wanted, a lovely blue/white/grey varigated alpaca DK, upon sitting down and jumped on it the minute it was my turn. I was a girl with a take-home limit and I knew what I wanted. It did mean I missed out on this lovely bird fabric, but that’s okay cause it went to a good home and I have enough fabric.

The aftermath

The aftermath

After everyone got their turn, we turned to free for all time. There was much digging about and contemplation. Some swirling around in fabrics. Much squishing of yarns. People’s piles were growing bigger. I was really excited that my pile so far contained only the blue yarn and a couple bits of fabric. Then someone found the mass of plum dress fabric and I was done. I sat indecisive on it for a while but finally was convinced it should go home with me. I’ve got a few steampunk costume plans for it so it will be okay.

Love flat packed yarn

Love flat packed yarn

The thing I love about our swishing, is we were all very chill about it and encouraging. There were no fights and instead often you heard instead “oh, were you interested in this? well if you really want it, then you take it.” Or something to that effect. There was much laughter and delight over the vaccuum packed yarn Anna brought along. She had a big moth incident last year so invested in a vaccuum sealer and has since vaccuum sealed all her yarn in plastic, so that is how she brought it to the swish. It was amusing to see all this really poofy yarn flattened down to pancake size. In the end, in new treasures were found and everyone was excited for what they were taking home.

And my bag was totally less full than when it arrived, even with the mound of plum fabric. See, I can have self-control of my craft stash. My acquirements from the day in photos:

fabric haul

Fabric Haul

yarn haul

Yarn Haul

swish project bag

Cath Kidston project bag

A few small knits

I’d been working on a few more complicated and fiddly knitting patterns and kept hitting snags with them. So I opted instead to do a few more small simple things to give myself a break before I started lighting the yarn on fire.

I was packing together a box to send to my folks, so I made a TARDIS dishcloth to tuck in there for them.

TARDIS Dishcloth

 

 

 

 

And to use up the rest of ball of cotton yarn, I churned out a quick little diagonal knit dishcloth to add to our stash in the house.

Cotton Dishcloth

 

 

 

 

For a real shock to the system, I went up to some 12mm needles (for the non-knittery, these are about the diameter of your finger), and knit up a little chunky cowl. A quick pattern and was good for me to burn through a bit of stash.

Chunky Cowl

 

 

 

 

And the one I’m most proud of isn’t actually a knit, it’s a crochet. My mom has a coworker who’s pregnant and a really nerdy chemistry teacher, so I whipped up this little amigurumi chemistry flask as a stuffed toy for the baby.

Chemistry Flask Amigurumi

 

 

 

 

The bonus with it, is I really wanted it to jingle. So I did some searching to find options for how to do this. Most of what I turned up suggested the best way to get a good sound (and make a safe toy should it get disassembled) was to have the bell or noise inside a small capsule. I found a couple good tutorials for making them out of the yellow pods inside of Kinder Eggs and from ping pong balls. I however was time crunched and lazy. So I thought, what is a jingling durable capsule already out there? Having been around cats for many years, this was obvious to me and I quickly found these beauties on Amazon. DIY Baby Toy Rattle

However, after they arrived, I was worried they might be too big for the size of toy I was making. I tried it out with the toy when I was ready to stuff. It fit and did make an awesome jingly rattle noise, but there wasn’t much room to stuff around it so the toy was a little solid. I was a bit worried it might be too hard for a baby toy so I thought about what I could use to make my own. Inspiration struck quickly when I spied a tiny little sample jar on my dresser. It originally had a sample of grapefruit body scrub from The Body Shop (not my favorite scent I’d have to say) and I’d saved the empty container thinking it might be useful for travel things. However, it was the perfect size filling & stuffing in a baby toy.

DIY Baby Toy RattleA quick dig into the bead stash for some large sized seed beads to put inside it and voila, a baby rattle. I applied a bit of superglue to the threads of the base and then screwed the lid on to ensure it wouldn’t somehow work it’s way open & could go through the wash. Stuffed it in the body, finished working it up and then I had one awesome baby gift. I’m so going to remember this for the next time I want to make a baby toy make noise and start saving those little sample jars.

Unravel 2012

Entryway at Unravel

Entryway at Unravel

Despite still battling the chest infection of doom, which funnily enough has me sounding a lot like Kathleen Turner apparently, I ventured down to Farnham for the day to go to Unravel. I went last year on the Sunday and it was quite a nice pleasent relaxed day out. Obviously as they were pretty much sold out on tickets in advance this year, it was slated to be slightly busier and as I was going on the Saturday, likely to be a lot busier than what I experienced last year. Overall it wasn’t too bad though. Luckily enough my friends Anna and Sarah had a stall and were kind enough to let me ditch my bigger bag and coat behind it for the day which made navigating the crowds so much easier.

When I put a message on Facebook saying I was heading to Unravel, my friend Sarah (a different Sarah than the one with the stall) commented that she would be there and funnily enough, we ran into each other walking to the event from the train station. Perfect timing. Though we follow each other’s activity through various online means, I’ve not seen Sarah in ages since she lives down near Brighton and it was nice to be able to say hi and catch up in person. She was wandering around with a few friends so we would keep coming across each other throughout the day which was lovely.

Paper doll fair isle on a lamp post

Paper doll fair isle on a lamp post

One of the things I like about Unravel is all the random bits of knittery decor around the venue. This year was no exception with some delightful knitted lamppost cozies, some knitted balloons swaying along the bridge, a rainbow weave of knitting on a fence, a knitted sheep in the entry way, support columns turned into knitted apartment block towers, and even an entire knitted farmyard in one of the stairwells. All delightful and charming.

Knitted balloons swaying in the wind along the bridge

Knitted balloons swaying in the wind along the bridge

The first thing spied on entering was they had special Unravel tote bags for sale this year which were sporting the most adorable patterned sheep design from Mary Kilvert. I’ve seen her work at a couple of the Crafty Fox markets at the Dogstar in Brixton and I’ve coveted that design as a print for ages but never seem to have enough cash left at the end of my craft market purchasing to acquire one. However for a £5 tote bag made for Unravel, I was sold. I used it as my purse bag for the day stuffing my wallet, knitting, and phone in it and leaving the messenger stashed behind my friends’ booth.

Wandering around there was so much yarny tempation. I had a moment of ‘why am I here when I’m not supposed to be buying any yarn’ as I made it a goal for the year to not buy any yarn in an effort to reduce the stash size. But brushing that moment aside, I was enjoying getting to squish and admire all the pretties. I stopped and chatted with Jon from Easyknits for a bit as we compared cat stories. I ran into Sarah and watching her digging through the mini-skein pile at the Skein Queen booth, I couldn’t resist any longer so I broke down and decided mini skeins don’t count on a yarn diet. I bought six little ones which I have no idea what they will be but they give me delightful pleasure as they’re so cute and tiny.

I wandered through the Best in Show exhibit and saw some completely lovely things. My favorites were these:

Dalek crochet top from Best in Show

Dalek crochet top from Best in Show

Knitted flower basket from Best in Show

Knitted flower basket from Best in Show

Knitted circular shawl from Best in Show

Knitted circular shawl from Best in Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then in the great hall I found the John Arbor booth and he had some most delishous looking fiber on sale much of which was marked down for the show. I succumbed again and got 100g of a lovely blue-green-black-natural merino top and then said what the hell and got a 100g of a sock blend top. Guess I’m going to need to dust off my spindles and get back with the drop spindle practice. I gotta lot of fiber already to burn through!

I paused for a little break and sat around chatting with Sarah and some of her friends for a bit. It was nice to have a bit of a sit and rest, which is probably my only complaint about Unravel is there wasn’t much seating/lounge space to just sit and have a knit and natter. They all wanted to wander to go buy some yarn and my tummy was a rumbling so I was contemplating the snack queue or dashing for a train back home when the Sarah from the booth and her little guy Mr. E wandered by in search of cake. So Sarah & I both acquired cake and tea and went to go sit outside in the sun for a bit while Mr E busied himself surprising unsuspecting ladies who sat down at the table (as he was under it crawling around) or attempted to make the mad crawl away under some cars. After I went to hangout at the both with Sarah & Anna for a bit as I had some time before my train.

All in all it was again a lovely day out. Unravel is one of my favorite knitting shows I’ve been to here in the UK as I really enjoy it’s really relaxed and non-pressure vibe. It’s not expensive, it has a good selection of vendors and it just feels fun and lively like a knitting show should. And just to do some self-shaming, my haul from the day:

My haul from Unravel

Performance Center and me

So part of my new role at work is to manage all the testing for my new team. As the team is so small, I am there only tester so that includes things like taking care of the performance testing. Now this isn’t a scope of testing I’ve generally had much to do with before and honestly considered kind of a ninja art. But sure, I can roll with the punches and learn new things.

Up to this point, the team had been using JMeter for the load testing, but weren’t entirely sold with it. They’d seen random issues with it not reporting consistent data and with our current project we were seeing it not so capable of handling the very short response time our service performed at. And it requires a lot of post-run manual work to actually get the data. So we decided to check out HP Performance Center as it’s the standard tool our company uses for load testing. Most of the use of Perf Center is for load testing webpage based applications. We can’t have a load of customers hitting our site at once and causing servers to fall over cause that is generally considered bad. However my new team’s work is more backend service related as we’re building message transforms between services using Synapse and Groovy. So in strolls me having never used Perf Center before and also needing to use it to build something there aren’t a lot of folks who use it for that. Awesome times.

I couldn’t easily figure out how to record a script for a non web test so I just went and built it from scratch in the code. Luckily the manager in charge of the perf testing team set me up with an existing project that did similar testing when he set me up with access so I was able to get an idea where to start. A bit of googling how other people tested HTTP and REST services using Perf Center later. And luckily I have a tester on my former team who’s pretty knowledgable about these perf testing things and he helped me quite a bit getting things going. Between all of these I had a good idea what I needed to do just to write the script. There was even the extra fun challenge of having to dust off/teach myself RegEx again when I needed to add quotes to the start and end of every line of a 900 line XML request message to put in the script (seriously HP? you can’t make a smarter tool that could handle something like a block comment? -5 for crap).

Script got written and tested but needs to be uploaded to Perf Center. Then comes crazy situation where I had been setup with access to and started scripting in PerfCenter 9.5 and then when asked for my own project got moved into PerfCenter 11, which they are only just starting to upgrade folks to and all new projects must go in PerfCenter 11. <insert swearing>. Meaning I’m now a guinea pig for a tool that I’ve never used before and most of the perf testers at our company haven’t even seen the latest version of which is noted for having a distinctly different interface. Way to make it more awesome.

But I got everything redownloaded and the script retested against the new version so by the end of the week I was back to needing to upload it. Then I spent an embarassing amount of time trying to figure out how to upload it to Performance Center. However, my very nice coworker tester got me sorted and going in the right direction again. It turned out I was doing everything right, but it just wasn’t obvious I was doing so (-3 on the UX there HP).

Anyway, today I finally got to actually play with making the test go. This time I busted out the manual and sat there with the quick start guide going through the steps to setup a perf run. I have to say HP, you picked some random ass icons for you buttons in Perf Center 11 that aren’t exactly intuitive (-1 on UX). But with very little issue, I got it going and got the perf test to run all in about an hour. Score one for reading the manual (+2 on documentation -1 for actually needing it).

Now I feel I know what I’m doing, I get to start tweaking my test when I go in tomorrow and I’m kind of excited to play with it. Frustrating as it can be, it’s kind of fun getting leway to spend time ramping up and learning things. With a lot of my past projects and teams it never felt like there was a lot of free time to spare to do much of this kind of thing, or if there was it felt like you were doing it in 20 minute increments when you had a few to spare. It’s good to be like a kid once in a while with a shiny new thing to investigate. Helps drive the mind from getting stale.

Diving into Narnia

One of the things on my 30 for 30 list was to finally read through the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. I’m pretty sure I’ve at least read The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe at some point but that was likely so long ago I don’t actually remember. But ever since the film versions for a couple of the books came out, it’s been on my list to read through the whole lot. I even went so far at one point as to buy the complete series in one book. I think I maybe started a couple pages into the first book before I got distracted. But that was as far as I ever got to that goal.

Now I’ve actually started reading the monstrous tome that it is and am determined I will read through them all. I just finished the first book, The Magician’s Nephew, last night and definitely am hooked now so I don’t foresee there being any interest waining for a while.

20120221-101230.jpg